After a not-nearly-long-enough break, The BradCast is back for the new year, when everything will be entirely better than the old year, right? Well, if the last several days of insanity that we now refer to as "news" is any indication, the answer is: "Not so much!" It will be impossible to adequately cover all we discussed on today's program in today's summary. But, we'll give you the basics here and hope you tune in for the full story. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
While we were off, both houses of Congress overrode Donald Trump's ridiculous veto of the "must-pass", $780 billion National Defense Authorization Act to fund the military for another year. But GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was nonetheless successful in preventing Americans from receiving $2,000 pandemic checks, despite best efforts of Democrats, a tiny, uninspiring handful of Republicans, and even Trump himself. That, as the nation clocked an unfathomable 350,000 COVID deaths, which is the equivalent of blowing up about 17 sold-out NBA arenas and killing every single person in every single one of them, or 115 9/11s over the past 10 months in the U.S.
With that, the new 117th Congress convened for the first time on Sunday, with a narrow majority for Republicans in the Senate (pending Tuesday's two U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia) and with a narrow majority for Democrats in the House, where they elected Nancy Pelosi as Speaker for another two years.
Despite all of that pretty big news, it all seemed to pale in comparison to Donald Trump's ongoing electoral death rattle. With concerns about how our unstable President may react as his days in office dwindle, every living former Defense Secretary (10 of them, Republican and Democratic, including the two fired by Trump and even Dick Cheney, who was apparently concerned enough that he reportedly led this effort), published a short, sharp group op-ed, making it crystal clear that any "efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory," and that "civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic."
Even as that was being published on Saturday, Trump was on the phone for an unhinged hour with the Republican Secretary of State of Georgia, haranguing, threatening and cajoling him to change the state's Presidential election results to award the state's electoral college votes to Trump. We play part of that call, which may have been in violation of both state and federal laws, on today's show. We do not do it justice. The Washington Post has published the full bonkers audio and transcript, including Trump's long-ago debunked fraud claims and repeated false assertions that he won the state by about a half million votes (he lost it by about 12,000) and that he just wants "to find 11,780" votes to "win" the state.
The news of that madness came on Sunday, as Georgia will have it's last day of voting in two U.S. Senate runoffs to determine partisan control of the Senate for the next two years on Tuesday, and as the new Congress meets in a joint session on Wednesday, January 6th, to affirm (or not) the results of Biden's Electoral College victory over Trump by a seemingly comfortable 306 to 232 margin.
Over the weekend, however, more than a dozen Republican U.S. Senators led by 2024 hopefuls Josh Hawley of MO and Ted Cruz of TX, announced they intend to challenge the Electoral College results on Wednesday during what is normally a pro forma procedural affair presided over by the President of the Senate (Vice President Mike Pence, in this case).
And this bring us to crux of where we are and what could happen on Wednesday, as Republicans continue to claim --- through failed lawsuits and other protests --- that the Electoral College Act (ECA) of 1887, which has determined the procedure to be used on Wednesday for about 150 years and 33 Presidential elections without question, is somehow a violation of the Constitution's 12th Amendment.
If Republicans can figure out how to make this argument on Wednesday --- with Pence potentially holding the reins to help them --- we could find ourselves in a Constitutional quagmire leading to....lord knows what.
We're joined today to help explain all of this madness by longtime election integrity advocate, election law scholar and democracy activist, PAUL LEHTO. He argues that, despite so many claims to the contrary (by many of the same folks who said that Trump could never become President back in 2016, by the way) there is, in fact, still a "path" for Trump and his Republicans to steal the election from Biden on Wednesday.
Tune in for the details, but it has to do with how the 12th Amendment says that questions about the validity of Electoral Votes should be dealt with (via a one vote per state vote in the U.S. House), versus how the ECA handles such challenges (with a regular, up or down majority vote in both houses needed to support such a challenge.)
Why is this even a question at this point? Lehto explains in detail.
He also cites the lesson that we should learn from all of this madness: "What we should learn is that what you and election integrity activists have talked about now for decades is coming home to roost," Lehto explains. "And that is that a big, big part of this is the inherent uncertainty when votes are purely processed through computers. Nobody really knows --- until there's a hand recount --- what the result is, and partisan people can attach to that uncertainty and that doubt any theory that they wish to in order to keep hope alive."
"So we need a voting system that leaves no doubt as to that result . And in order to have that you have to have transparency," he says, adding: "Basically, this is all the chickens coming home to roost, in terms of our non-transparent voting system."
There's more. But, again, you'll need to tune in for it. Happy New Year?...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)